Innovation has been touted as a means toward providing sustainability. Innovations in materials, manufacturing, and product design can lead to a reduction of global environmental impacts while helping to realize the goals of a sustainable society. This research aims to explore whether or not product functionality has an effect on environmental impact and if the flow of energy, materials, and signals (EMS) have an effect on product environmental impact. Innovative and common products are identified and life cycle assessment is performed for each product at the component level. Using function impact matrices, the environmental impacts of the product components are propagated back to the functional level, where their impacts are compared. The innovative products of the comparisons conducted appear to be more environmentally impact; more work must be done to understand whether the result is generalizable. The intended use of this research is during the conceptual design phase when little is known about the final form of a product. With approximate impacts of functions known, designers can better utilize their design efforts to reduce overall product environmental impact.

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